Thursday, September 24, 2015

Filmation's Flash Gordon

One of the benefit of my wife working (beyond the obvious monetary gain) is that I get to expose our daughter to geeky properties that we wouldn't necessarily watch as a family. Such was the case the other night when we watched the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. While I love that movie, mainly for the fact that it is a love letter to the old Buster Crabbe serials and the music, that's not what we're going to talk about here.

No, for this we're going to go back to the Filmation cartoon series, which I remember watching as a kid. While this does have all the hallmarks of being a Filmation production, namely stock music, repeated animations, simple lines, etc, I still think it works really well. Yes, there's a good deal of rotoscoping, mainly of the spacecraft, but that adds to the feel of the series.

It's quite a long series, going over 32 episodes, but it captures the feel of the serials, with each episode ending on a "how will they survive this?" cliff-hanger. Add to that the fact that we get to see races of Mongo that wouldn't be practical in a live action venue and we have a really enjoyable cartoon.

Luckily, my daughter agrees, as we watched the first few episodes after the movie, and have continued on every now and again. If you're interested in watching it, there are a few ways to do that. We're watching it on Hulu, but it is also available on DVD.

Do yourself a favor, though, and watch the compilation movie "The Greatest Adventure of All", as you get to see just how Flash, Dale, and Zarkov got to Mongo in the first place. Yes, there's some stuff repeated from the series, but it's well worth your time, in my opinion.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Changing Characters

Allow me to say, right here at the beginning, that I'm going to be talking about some stuff that might get you riled up. If you'd rather skip this post, I won't be offended.

What's so controversial? Well, I'm going to be giving my opinion on changing established characters, specifically comic book characters, with regard to race/gender/sexual orientation.

Before I get too far into this, let me acknowledge something. I'm a middle-aged, white, male, so I am aware that I have all the privilege that can be had. I hope to come at this topic without too much bias in  that regard, but I wanted to put it out there right at the start. Now, on with the show.

Let me say that, in concept, I don't have a problem with taking a character that was portrayed one way originally and then changing an aspect of that character later on, but I need you to have a good reason for doing so. I'll give you some examples of what I'm talking about.

Iris West, the love interest of Barry Allen, better known as The Flash, was first introduced in the now famous Showcase #4 (1956). In this story, and for the remainder of her comic appearances Pre- and Post-Crisis, she was depicted as a white female. Fast forward to 2014 where the TV pilot for The Flash was filmed. Here both Iris and her father, Detective Joe West, were cast as African-American.

There is really no problem here as this is a new version of all the character and we get to see Candice Patton and the great Jesse L. Martin in these roles. So, we have a valid interpretation of the characters, paying homage to the source material, being played by very good actors. Nope, no problems at all.

Let's move from DC to Marvel and talk about Heimdall. As those of you that have been
reading/listening to my stuff are aware, I'm a Heathen, which means that I worship the Norse Gods. So, you might think that I would have a problem with "The White God" being played by a black man. Well, you'd be wrong. First of all, these are the Marvel Comics versions of the characters, which means that they aren't my Gods. Secondly, we had Idris Elba give an outstanding performance as the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge.

Again, we have a new interpretation of the character and his race didn't effect anything with regard to the story, plus we had a great actor playing the part. No problems here, either.

Staying with Marvel, let's talk about something that I do have a problem with. In the recent Fant4stic (how do you pronounce that, BTW?) movie, the originally white Johnny Storm was played by Michael B. Jordan, a black man. While I have not seen the movie, everything I've heard states that he did a great job in the role.

So, why do I have a problem here? Well, it's not so much with his character, but more with the now changed relationship with his sister. You see, they decided to keep Sue as a white woman and make her adopted. Now, if they had done something with that plot, I wouldn't have a problem, but they seem to just say that's the case and drop it. What I would rather they have done is make Sue black as well, and then deal with the interracial relationship between her and Reed. So my problem here isn't that Johnny was black, but that Sue wasn't with no real need for it to be that way.

For the final example, I'm going to go back to DC. Here we have Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern from the Golden Age. When DC decided to scrap everything (except for Batman and Hal Jordan's Green Lantern) in favor of the New 52, they brought back the concept of Earth 2. Here we had a young Jay Garrick as The Flash and Alan Scott as Green Lantern. However, in this version, Alan was a homosexual.

Again, this is a new take on an old character, so I shouldn't have a problem with the change. I do, though, because of the ramifications of this choice. You see, Alan Scott is the father of two other characters, Jade and Obsidian, who are quite good characters in their own right. In fact, Obsidian is a gay man, which was used quite well to, you'll forgive the pun, shine a light on the topic Pre-New 52.

So, while I have no problem, in theory, of Alan being gay, I don't like that it was apparently not thought out and, therefore, seems to be more of a marketing thing than writing. Now, if he had been closeted, fathered the children, and then came out to everyone, THAT I could get behind. But, as with many decisions by comic companies recently, the long term was not considered.

So, what do you think? Am I off my rocker? Am I a closet racist/homophobe because I can't get behind all the changes? I'd really like to hear your opinions on the subject.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

On A Personal Note

I have apparently completely lost my mind. You see, the guys over at NeoZAZ have decided to take part in the Rocky Run this November. As I've been wanting to meet the guys, get in better shape, and the possibility of walking the 5k exists, I decided to sign up and participate on team NeoZAZ Stallions. As they're looking for a pace of at least 15 minutes per mile, and I have not done any kind of decent exercise in my weight loss, I figured that I needed to start training. So, now I'm walking at least a mile a day at lunchtime, and doing it at a very brisk pace. I mean, if I'm going to do this, I might as well push myself, right? Which means that, as I type this, I'm sitting here getting my breath back after walking 1.1 miles in 14.5 minutes. Not too shabby.

On another, yet still personal, note, those that follow my stuff on Facebook and Google Plus know that my wife has recently gotten a job after a very long search. While this is wonderful news for us, it does mean that I'm going to need to watch our daughter while she's working. So, my podcast editing time has been a bit curtailed, since if I'm spending time with my daughter, I'm not going to do it attached to a computer. Please keep that in mind if you see a bit of an erratic posting schedule for my shows.

Not to sound mercenary or anything, but if you want to guarantee a more regular schedule on podcasts, then you should head on over to my Patreon page (see below) and pledge a buck or two every month. Like most people, things that I'm getting paid to do take on a higher priority.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

What If ... Star Wars Prequels

In another "What If..." musing, I was thinking about the Star Wars prequels, also known as Episodes 1 thru 3. Now, while I don't hate these films, I'm not a huge fan of them, so I was thinking about how they might be improved. What if, as the original Star Wars was the hero's journey, the prequels took their inspiration from the legends of King Arthur? Let me break it down by character.

Obi-Wan Kenobi = King Arthur: A wise and generous person, who also happens to be a very effective warrior. His one failing, though, is that he can't see what's right under his nose. His best friend is betraying him, but he can't see it until it's too late.

Yoda = Merlin: The voice of reason and prophesy that, when listened to, can save everyone, but when ignored, the other characters sew the seeds of their own destruction. A very powerful person, but also very unwilling to use that power unless absolutely necessary.

Anakin = Lancelot: A young prodigy that comes to learn the ways of the larger universe, but frequently goes off on his own. Very powerful, but also very head strong. He knows the right thing to do, and often does it, but his own personal desires lead to his downfall.

Padme = Guinevere: A beautiful Queen who tries to use her position to turn the thoughts of her subjects away from war and towards love. She is fascinated by the young Knight that has come to her realm and falls in love with him. She resists her own impulses for as long as possible, but eventually they both give in, leading to the Knight's fall from grace.

Luke = Galahad: Son of the fallen Knight who has all of his skill and daring, but is able to resist the temptations that caused his father's fall. He is responsible for finally eliminating the evil that the other Knights could not.

Palpatine = Mordred: Initially a young mover and shaker, some revelation makes him decide that the current system is broken and that he is the one to fix it. Giving into his dark desires, he gains followers and power, eventually toppling the bright and hopeful establishment from within.

Obviously I could go on into the other Knights of the Round Table / Jedi Knights, but I think you get the point. I think we could have had a much better set of movies if we had this as the underlying current rather than the political/taxation intrigue that we did.

What do you think? Am I going too far out on a limb here?

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